CSFBdirect Gains on Hong Kong Alliance

CSFBdirect (NYSE: DIR) picked up 0.38 to 4.94 Friday on a reportedjoint venture with Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.

The companies reportedly invested a total of US$20 million to provide anonline service for private investors in Hong Kong, with each companycontributing half. According to wire reports, the new venture will allowclients to open accounts and make stock transactions over the Internet,including via wireless devices.

Monday marks the official debut of CSFBdirect, which was previously known as DLJdirect. The Jersey City, New Jersey-based online brokerage hadbeen a subsidiary of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities, which wasrecently acquired by Credit Suisse First Boston.

The firm has already started an advertising campaign designed to draw newcustomers and focus on the name change. CSFBdirect also plans to beginupgrading its services, introducing new features to its Web site andexpanding its financial services to include planning, advisory services, andbanking, said chief executive officer Blake Darcy.

“Online investors will have access to a combined force of 300 analysts coveringover 3,000 companies worldwide,” said chief marketing officer DebraIsenberg. “CSFBdirect customers will benefit from an increased opportunityto participate in initial public offerings and secondary offerings.”

Before the acquisition, DLJdirect had more than one million customeraccounts, representing some $28 billion in assets.

The firm recently announced an expanded alliance with America Online,giving it a prominent spot on the personal finance channels of AOL,Netscape.com and Compuserve. The company said the agreement will allow it to reach a large online consumer audience.

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